November 26, 2006

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Costco: A Good Holiday Wine Source

As the Holidays approach, the country’s largest wine retailer, trots out some magnificent wines for sale, many in large formats. Recently I saw a 3.0L of 2005 Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir ($73), a 3.0L of La Crema Sonoma Coast ($63), and several magnums of Champagne (Tattinger) and sparkling wine (Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 2000). Costco has its own private label lineup of wines, Kirkland Signature wines, including a tawny port from Portugal, an Oregon Pinot Noir, a French Brut Champagne, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, a singlevineyard Shiraz-Cabernet from Barossa Valley, a Cabernet from Alexander Valley in Sonoma and a Super Tuscan from Italy. The wines are made by respected vintners in small lots of 2,000 cases and rotated among the warehouses. The wines offer significant savings of as much as 50% over over national brands. I have sampled the Kirkland Signature Oregon Pinot Noir over the last few years and found it to be highly variable in quality, not surprising considering it is a blended wine from several sources. The current 2005 release is about $18, but I think you can do a lot better in that price range with several name brands. The selection of wines varies from store to store so it is a good idea to call ahead to inquire about specific wines.

Costco’s strong suit is Champagne. They offer a startling number of prestigious bottlings for prices that are sometimes astonishing. Also, you can buy the Champagnes on the internet at www.costco.com. Examples offered currently include: Krug Grand Cuvee ($129.99), 1995 Dom Perignon Rose ($319.99), 1998 Dom Perignon ($109.99), 1996 Grand Dame ($114.99), and 1999 Veuve Cliquot Rose ($57.99). They have a pretty broad selection of still wines on the website as well. The selection of still Pinot Noir was pretty meager. Costco can only ship to the following states: CA, Ill, NM, Ore, Texas, Wash, and WVa.

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